The Long Tail is Alive & Well

Filed in Featured, Searcher Behavior, Statistics by Matt McGee on September 16, 2010 10 Comments

Here’s more evidence that the “long tail” of search is alive and well: Last week on Twitter, Experian Hitwise shared a chart comparing search queries over a four-week period in August-September 2010 to the same four-week period in 2009. The results? In 2010, searches of 5-8 words were up 10%, while 1-2 word searches were down. Have a look:


This contradicts Hitwise data that I wrote about in February, data that suggested one-word searches were on the rise. But in May, Google shared some data that — like this new Hitwise chart above — also showed the strength of the long tail.

Now, how Google Instant affects this is anyone’s guess. I can’t wait to find out.

Comments (10)

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  1. Aaron says:

    Hi Matt. I haven’t had any difference in search related activity. I only think that instant search will help, since it gives predicted suggestions which are usually long tail phrases. What do you think?

  2. Alex says:

    Thanks for sharing the stats. I do fear that long tail is going to be affected by Google Instant – especially that of 5 or more words. I image more people will “be trained” by Google, and as the more important words are used in the first 2-3 words, those instantaneous results will catch the eye prior to finishing their full phrase. Time will tell…especially with next year’s same comparison.

  3. James Cooper says:

    Ok, this is interesting.
    I wonder how this might change with Google Instant now up? Maybe the distribution will shift more towards 3 & 4.

  4. Keith says:

    Thanks for posting Matt…

    My guess would be that google instant will not impact these numbers much at all. Google has been suggesting “search terms” for a while now. Whats new is that the results show instantly as you type.

    If it does have an impact I would thing long tail searches would go up due to what Aaron mentioned above “it gives predicted suggestions which are usually long tail phrases.”

  5. Joe L says:

    Google’s search suggestions are perfect examples of long tail keywords and their impact.

    The way people are searching now a days accommodates long tail keywords. I have a feeling this trend will only increase.

    Thanks Matt, good post.

  6. Lisa Bishop says:

    It will be interesting to compare next year’s results to this year for sure! Searchers have been getting more and more savvy – they know exactly what they want and want to save time by getting the most accurate results on their first search. To me, this is why the Long Tail keywords are so popular. Personally, Google Instant has not effected the way I search.

  7. Teena says:

    I have always been a fan of 3-4 keywords ever since and now that Google Instant is here, I don’t think it has so much effect on my traffic. I guess beyond that, it would be hard to appear on Google SeRP. Though it still too early to tell…let’s just wait and see.

  8. James says:

    I’m spending many waking hours deliberating over short, high volume search phrases versus long tail buying searches. In some cases the difference between the number of local monthly searches can be massive, e.g. 60,500 compared to 1,300.

    The advice I am following states that as long as there are more than 1,000 local monthly long tail buying searches then it is worth implementing. I am going to give it a go but I am not yet convinced.

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